Deepest thoughts (because I can’t be any more coherent right now)

Someone anonymously dropped an Easter basket in our front yard (for Joel), so Mark assumed that it was Doris who did this and insisted that we go to thank her immediately. I was like, “But what if it wasn’t from her?” And Mark was like, “It definitely was.” So you know where this is going… We walked over to Doris’ house, and she happened to be in her front yard, and Mark was like, “Thank you so much for the basket you left for Joel!” And Doris was like, “I didn’t leave him a basket.” And Mark (seeing a shovel in Doris’ hand) was like, “Are you planting some flowers?” And Doris was like, “No, I’m burying my cat. He died today.”

Probably ten percent of Joel’s shirts say “little brother” on them. We dress him in them frequently, as Joel is a little brother, and we’re proud of his big brother, and we want Joel to grow up knowing Matthew. I’m so accustomed to dressing Joel in these shirts that I do it without thinking anything of it. So last Friday I took Joel to the park, and he was wearing one of these shirts, and it sparked the following conversation with a nearby dad…

Dad – Little brother?

Me – Huh?

Dad – I’m just reading his shirt.

Me – Oh, yeah… His big brother would be almost two…

Dad – Oh, I’m so sorry. I’m a nurse in an operating room, so I see so much…

Me – Oh, yeah… I bet… Yeah, my first son was perfectly healthy, but he had a knot in his umbilical cord and passed away after my emergency C-section.

Dad – So he had cerebral palsy?

Me – No… He had a knot in his cord.

Dad – I thought you said he was healthy.

Me – He was. He just lost too much oxygen.

Dad – There’s no humor in oxygen loss when it comes to babies and children…

Me – Huh?

Dad – I just can’t even imagine… I mean, I kind of can, because I see… I mean, I guess I can’t. I can’t imagine. It’s just a parent’s worst nightmare. Like the worst thing… Losing a child…

Me – Joel, do you want to go play on the swings? Alright, let’s say bye, bye!

Dad – Bye, bye. Good luck.

Me – Fuck you very much. (Just kidding – I didn’t say this aloud.)

Three days ago Emily told me she had a dream that Joel cut four more teeth at the same time. Two days ago we noticed that at least three of Joel’s top teeth are coming in, so it seems as though Emily is some kind of clairvoyant.

Mary, our parking garage attendant, recently informed me that another one of her adult sons was murdered just last week. In case you didn’t know, this world is too brutal.

The other day JVB was telling me about a professional hockey player she watched who scored a goal. She noted that he is short, so I mused that he must be fast to compensate for being short. And JVB smiled and winked and was like, “Yeah, he’s good with a stick.” In this moment I realized just how much I’ve missed JVB.

Emily is vacationing to Europe for the entire month of June and half of July and then starting law school in early August, and she emailed me last night to lay out her summer schedule and I burst into tears at the realization that it is almost May, and after May we’ll essentially be losing her, although I’m sure she’ll work for us sporadically here and there. I’m not sure what the hell I’m going to do without her. I wish she could work for us forever.

Our other neighbors (whose dirty underwear I once accidentally received from Fedex) are moving. This is great news, and I’m very thankful, because they’re kind of crazy and violent and passive aggressive, and pretty much anyone who moves in would be better neighbors than they are, and they’re probably reading this. I’ve fantasized about the day they move – like I want to jump up and down in my front yard and cheer as they drive away for the last time, but I won’t do this…

We travelled to my home town for Easter weekend. It was Joel’s first trip out of town, and he handled it like a champ, though it heightened my anxiety. On Saturday night, my mom suggested we watch a movie, and I reluctantly agreed… I had this realization like, “How can I watch a movie when my son is dead?” We watched Bad Moms, which has a lot of sexual content (funny that my MOM recommended this as our EASTER WEEKEND movie), but it was kind of the funniest movie I’ve seen in a very long time (though also one of the only movies I’ve seen in a very long time). My favorite line from the movie? “I confiscated my son’s weed… And then I smoked the SHIT out of it.” I mean, I can’t say I’d do this, but I’m not ruling it out either…

I attended support group last week… At the beginning of support group each attendee introduces herself/himself and briefly tells her/his story. At this particular meeting, I noticed almost everyone’s story ended with some kind of statement of self-blame like…

“I keep wondering what would have happened if I’d have taken him to the hospital five minutes earlier – would I have had to remove life support?”

“Obviously, I showed up at the hospital too late… I’ll always wonder what would have happened if I’d shown up sooner.”

“I did everything right. I ate so healthy. But he still died, and we can’t figure out why.”

“I don’t know exactly when she died. I thought maybe I’d felt her on the day prior. But the doctors think she was gone for longer… I keep replaying those last days in my mind.”

It just sucks that we’ll live with these feelings, to some extent, for the rest of our lives, as if the grief alone isn’t enough. But we are their mothers, and, for this reason, I don’t know if these feelings will ever go away… I still tell Matthew I’m sorry almost daily, sometimes multiple times per day… I know his death isn’t my fault, but so much in our society is measured by results, outcomes… And he’s dead. His death feels like it is my fault. I still feel a sense of guilt, failure, and shame, even. Regardless, I hope he knows how hard I worked to get him here safely. I hope he knows how loved he is. I hope he knows I did everything I could. I hope he knows how sorry I am.

Starting last Thursday, I engaged in a marathon of social interactions. On Thursday, we saw Mark’s second cousin and then on Friday Mark’s sister was here with Emily, and then on Saturday we were with my family, and then on Sunday we visited Mark’s childhood church. Though the interactions were generally positive, it became apparent to me that I’ve lost a lot of social skills, so I was like, “Mark, I’ve lost my social skills…” And he was like, “I agree.” (Thanks, Mark.) But then he confided in me that he’s lost some of his too, mostly because he tends to avoid certain conversational landmines, most notably he usually doesn’t want to discuss others’ kids. And I generally don’t want to either – like I can’t bond over anything normal. I don’t want to hear about someone’s first child learning XYZ and then be expected to try to relate with Joel as though he’s my first child, and my actual first child isn’t dead. I hope in time this barrier will lessen. I might need it to for me to be able to lead a healthy-ish life…

Today I did almost nothing because anxiety won. There are text messages I haven’t responded to in days. Mark had to come rescue me in the early evening hours before heading out for a business dinner, and he left me in tears, and I wasn’t sure how I’d make it to bedtime by myself. I ate frosted mini wheats for dinner. I wondered how anyone makes dinner in general – it seems like such activities require a level of motivation I don’t currently possess. I’ve since rebounded a bit and did some laundry before writing this post…

Joel recently met a baby at the park named Merlin… Like this baby has a wizard name and was pointing at random shit in the sky.

5 thoughts on “Deepest thoughts (because I can’t be any more coherent right now)

  1. Just wrote something similar about guilt! At least we are not alone in the shit!!!!



    Liked by 1 person

  2. “I can’t imagine”…I DESPISE this sentence. Yes, yes you CAN imagine,.

    Bad Moms is so fucking funny. I ordered it on OnDemand a few months ago, and watched it 3 times in 2 days. Seriously.


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